PE-Design Embroidery Digitizing Software: Getting
This article is in response to the emails I receive from my
website asking for my thoughts on PE-Design. If you are
considering purchasing embridery digitizing programs, I hope this
information will help your research.
What is PE-Design?
PE-Design is an embroidery digitizing software system
available from Brother dealers and though the 'PE' stands for
Personal Embroidery, don't let that fool you. It's a robust
system that allows for some pretty advanced digitizing and
embroidery and is an excellent program to begin learning the art
of embroidery digitizing. The Graphical User Interface (GUI) or
What-You-See/Interact-With-On-The-Screen is colorful with large,
intuitive buttons and fly-outs. It's also organized very well
with no clutter for a large workspace.
PE-Design allows the digitizer to convert a digital picture to
stitches and save it in a format that can be read by the computer
in your embroidery machine. The image can be one you've hand
drawn and scanned, one created in another imaging program such as
Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, or JASC Paint Shop Pro, one
you've captured (legally, of course) from the Internet, a CD or
floppy, or a digital snapshot from your digital camera. Whatever
the case, the original image must be in .jpg, .gif or .bmp
The PE-Design full product package includes a card
reader/writer. It must be plugged into a USB port in order for
the program to run. Though you can install the program on any
machine, it can only function on the machine where the
reader/writer is installed.
Once you've created your design, you can save it in Brother
(*.PES), Husqvarna/Viking (*.HUS), Melo (*.EXP), Tajima (*.DST)
and Pfaff (*.PCS) formats. It is a Brother product, so its native
format is PES.
What Does It Cost?
The program will probably run you somewhere between $1,000.00
and $1,200.00, but if you are purchasing an embroidery machine or
are a good customer of the shop and don't mind a little
dickering, you might be able to negotiate a substantial savings.
It never hurts to try. Here's a tip: Before you buy ask your
dealer if any major upgrades to the software have been announced.
If a major upgrade is forthcoming and you are in no hurry, you
may want to postpone your purchase. Major upgrades come with a
price, usually in the range of $250.00 to $300.00, and must be
purchased from a Brother dealer. Though a major upgrade is
usually worth the investment, you don't want to purchase the
software one month just to have to shell out more money a few
months later. Minor upgrades, from the current version 6.0 to
version 6.03 for instance, are free, and are downloaded from the
Brother web site.
Commercial or Home-based?
PE-Design is designed with the home-based digitizer and
personal embroiderer in mind. That means that many functions or
settings are automatic with limited manual control available to
the digitizer. Commercial digitizing software is just the
opposite: Functions and settings are in the hands of the
digitizer and automatic settings can be adjusted and saved. Of
course, commercial digitizing software will cost five to twenty
times more than PE-Design. Still, in the hands of a skilled and
creative digitizer, PE-Design produces excellent embroidery
Beginning to Digitize
As with any sophisticated software be prepared to practice,
practice, practice and use your creativity to explore and push
the program to its limits. Learn the fundamentals of what makes a
design sew out perfectly, then look at the designs you like with
an analytical eye. Ask, "How did they do that?" and try to
recreate the technique. With time you'll develop your own style
and find your digitizing niche.
Many shops offer digitizing classes. Ask to sit in for free on
a few before making a time or financial commitment. If all the
instructor does is follow the booklet that came with the
software, save your money. You'll probably teach yourself
Speaking of the manual: It is 262 pages and was obviously
written by a team very familiar with PE-Design and the English
language. It is well organized with plenty of images and
screenshots, is very easy to read and covers the basic use of
every tool in depth. It is not a digitizing teacher. Use it to
learn the tools, it won't take long, then practice, practice,
The Bottom Line
If you are interested and excited about learning to digitize
your own embroidery designs, whether for personal use or to sell,
I think PE-Design is a wonderful way to get started. Its
reasonable entry fee and easy to use and learn interface, will
allow you to reach new creative heights in all your
Deb Schneider is an embroidery design digitizer and offers her
embroidery designs on her website: WindstarEmbroidery.com.
You can email Deb at dschneider@windstarEmbroidery.com.
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